(NBC NEWS) – During the summer months, kids spend a lot of time on the playground, either at the park, camp, or daycare, but ER doctors are seeing a lot of those children too.
6-year-old Nicklas White started his summer with a bit of a bummer. “Nicklas got hurt on the monkey bars at school. I asked him to make a fist, which he could not, and, so, i knew right away that it was a more significant injury,” said Nicklas’ dad, Michael.
Doctor Kelly Levasseur treats lots of playground injuries in the ER. She said the monkey bars are the number one culprit.
“Maybe one out of three kids that i see her comes in from some type of playground injury,” said Dr. Levasseur. “Falls from monkey bars is probably the most common. Also, falls off of ladders, falls off of any type of climbing toys.”
Dr. Levasseur said picking playgrounds with age-appropriate equipment is key. “If you have a preschooler, you want to make sure that the slides they’re going to go on aren’t more than four feet. You want to make sure that there are tunnels, you know, that are on the ground instead of something that’s up high.”
The ground covering is also important. Rubber or lots of woodchips can help cushion a fall. “You want to stay away from playgrounds that have concrete or grass covering,” said Dr. Levasseur.
Avoid playgrounds that have poorly maintained equipment, including rusty bolts or sharp edges. Also, close supervision can prevent lots of injuries, but many caregivers are making a critical mistake.
“Playground injuries have gone up because more people are on their cell phones and they’re not paying attention to what their kids are doing and what equipment that they’re on,” said Dr. Levasseur.
Nicklas has taken his broken arm in stride. Michael said, “He got to pick out the color and got a waterproof cast, which is really great because now, with the cast, he can go in the water, he can take showers.”
Michael said you can’t protect kids from everything. “When you have a young boy who’s very active, who’s exploring his own world, I mean, it’s going to happen.”
However, the injury has made him and his wife think twice. “We were going to have him play flag football in the fall and now, it’s like, you know, he’s only six,” said Michael.
Dr. Levasseur said, “I don’t think that we’ll ever be able to eliminate playground injuries. We can definitely decrease the number of injuries, especially the number of severe playground injuries.”
Another common playground injury occurs when parents make the mistake of going down a slide with a small child on their lap. Your child is much more likely to get hurt on your lap than on their own.
If they’re scared, just save the slide for when they’re a little bigger and braver.